Do I Need A Reason To File For Divorce?
Personal relationships can be difficult to navigate, even in the best of circumstances. When you add on the heavy societal, personal, and sometimes religious expectations that often accompany marriage, it can feel impossible to know when it is okay to throw in the towel and when it is your duty to keep fighting. This is a personal choice that the law is not meant to complicate. Ultimately if your heart is giving you reason to file, then that is enough of a reason. How you proceed legally is up to you, and in this article we will cover the available options for moving forward with a divorce, whether or not you would like to cite a specific reason or just get it over with. We hope that you find the information in this article helpful, but we always like to provide the caveat that no two marriages or divorces are entirely alike. While this information is meant to be helpful, it is not meant to be comprehensive or guaranteed to apply to your specific situation. The best way to get advice that is accurate and pertains to your specific situation is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in the area of divorce. If you would like to speak one-on-one with an experienced Birmingham divorce lawyer, you are welcome to contact us at Peeples Law to schedule a consultation.
No-Fault Divorce Grounds
In Alabama, you do not have to provide a specific reason for getting divorced, however, you do need to provide grounds for doing so. You have to provide a legal ground for dissolving the marriage because the marriage is a contract, so providing one of the statutory grounds allows the contract of marriage to be broken. There are a number of ways of doing this that fall into two categories of options: fault or no-fault divorce. If you file for a no-fault divorce you have two options, you can either file on the basis of incompatibility, or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. If you file based on incompatibility, this says to the court that you and your spouse simply cannot get along anymore, whereas with an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, you are asserting that the marriage is permanently broken and cannot be fixed. Both of these bases avoid putting the blame squarely on either spouse. It’s important to note that that does not actually mean that one spouse was not more at fault, or even entirely at fault. It is simply a choice that you are making not to spend any time in court determining fault, and simply to cut to the process of dissolving the marriage. This generally results in far more efficient divorces and much lower legal fees.
Fault-Based Divorce Grounds
On the other hand, if it is important to you to establish that it was your spouse’s fault that the marriage ended, Alabama also has filing options that allow for that. It’s important to understand that by doing this you are taking on a harder road, and one that will likely be much uglier, complicated, expensive, and time consuming than a no-fault divorce. However, sometimes it may be necessary due to the terms of a prenuptial agreement, or for the purposes or personal vindication, to pursue a fault-based divorce. If any of the following apply to your spouse, you can apply for a fault-based divorce:
- They committed adultery;
- They are habitually drunk;
- They abandoned the marriage for a period of at least twelve consecutive months;
- They have been institutionalized for at least 5 straight years due to mental illness and are found to be “incurably insane” when the divorce is filed for;
- They are sentenced to at least seven years in prison of which they have served at least two years; or
- They committed a crime against nature before or after the marriage.
This is not a complete list, as some grounds are hardly ever relevant in modern society. If you choose to move forward on one of the fault-based grounds listed above, you will have to provide evidence to support your assertion and prove it to the satisfaction of the court. Your spouse will also be allowed to have representation, and present evidence and arguments to the contrary. As you can imagine, a huge amount of time can be spent in court just arguing over whether the alleged fault occurred. If you cannot prove that your spouse acted with fault as you alleged, the divorce cannot proceed on those grounds and the case will be dismissed.
Talk to a Birmingham, Alabama Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering divorce, the best first step that you can take is talking to an experienced and compassionate Birmingham, Alabama divorce attorney. The lawyers at Peeples Law are ready to help you. Contact us today to schedule your own personalized consultation.